Can Plastic Made From Sugar And Carbon Dioxide Replace The Ones Made From Toxic Materials?

15 June 2017, 6:35 am EDT By Steve Bowman Tech Times
Scientists discovered a way to create plastic from carbon dioxide and sugar, which they claimed was biodegradable. Normal plastic production processes involve BPA and phosgene use, both of which are toxic substances.  ( University of BATH )

Researchers found a way to create biodegradable plastic from carbon dioxide and sugar, which may in the near future replace the standard plastic being used today.

Scientists at the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies or CSCT at Britain's Bath University performed the research to come up with a new, environmentally safe non-toxic plastic.

The New Polycarbonate Plastic

The usual process of producing plastic involves BPA and phosgene usage, both of which are harmful chemical substances. Phosgene is so toxic that it was used as a biological weapon during the World War I.

The new process of biodegradable plastic production involves two components, namely carbon dioxide and sugar. This process can be conducted using room temperature and low pressure, eliminating the huge production.

In this reaction, sugar replaces the BPA, while the carbon dioxide takes the place of the highly poisonous phosgene. The most important aspect of this polycarbonate plastic is that the enzymes present in the soil can easily break it down back to carbon dioxide and sugar.

Researchers were inspired by nature to come up with the new composition of the BPA-free plastic. The sugar used in the study was derived from the human body's DNA, also known as thymidine. The scientists were especially drawn to use thymidine so that they could ensure that the plastic would be bio-compatible.

"Because it is already present in the body, it means this plastic will be bio-compatible and can be used safely for tissue engineering applications," the study's first author Georgina Gregory shared .

Polycarbonate Plastic Made From Carbon Dioxide And Sugar: How Useful Will It Be?

Researchers claim that the new polycarbonate plastic will be able to adapt its structure and properties per the manufacturer's wishes.

"The properties of this new plastic can be fine-tuned by tweaking the chemical structure — for example we can make the plastic positively charged so that cells can stick to it, making it useful as a scaffold for tissue engineering," Gregory revealed.

In fact, tissue engineering projects have already been undertaken at CSCT under Chemical Engineer Ram Sharma. Researchers are eager to discover what these projects can conjure.

With the ever-increasing population, the plastic demand has been very high, which prompted scientists and environmentalists to design new ways to reduce the use of the non-biodegradable plastic bags. It remains to be seen whether this new and safe polycarbonate plastic compound mixture can completely replace the non-biodegradable compound or not.

The study's results were published in a series of three articles in the journal Polymer Chemistry and Macromolecules.

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